My Dad’s favorite soup was vichyssoise, which is French for a cream, leek and mashed potatoes milkshake. While vichyssoise is delicious, I always feel a little guilty having a day’s worth of calories in a cup. It’s also traditionally served cold, which makes it a tough sell in winter. This soup, from Food52, reminds me of Vichyssoise in its creamy texture and in its potato/leek provenance. It is, however, downright healthy and served hot—key features for all food in January.
The addition of pears here is all upside, especially if you need a way to use up any Christmas pears. By the way, if you happen to have that problem, I’ll be right over! It also cooks in one pot. And that’s not all…it can easily be Veganized by replacing the butter with your fat of choice, and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Swirl in some cream if you need a hug.
Cauliflower and Pear Soup
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 T olive oil
- 2 T butter
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts, chopped
- 1 small shallot, chopped
- 1 head cauliflower, green leaves and trunk removed, florets chopped
- 2 small yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 large or 2 small pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 5 leaves fresh sage (or about 2 tsp chopped), plus more for garnish, if desired
- 1 T chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 5 to 6 cups chicken stock
- kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
- 2 to 3 tsp sherry vinegar, or to taste (champagne vinegar also works well)
- 2-3 Tbsp maple syrup (optional)
- Finely chopped chives, or toasted walnuts and/or fried crumbled sage leaves (see here for inspiration on that). All of the above good, as is bacon of course.
- Heat the oil and butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the leek and shallot, and cook until they are soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
- Add the cauliflower, potato, pear, sage, and thyme, stirring to thoroughly coat them with the oil and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned, stirring frequently, another 8 to 10 minutes. (if your pot is pretty full it may take quite a bit longer. Be loose and go with your instincts here). You’re aiming for a little caramelization around the edges for depth of flavor.
- Add 5 cups chicken stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, lower heat to just maintain the simmer, and cook until all of the ingredients are very tender, about 30 minutes.
- With an immersion blender or regular blender, puree the soup until it’s smooth. If using a blender, you may need to do this step in batches, then return to pot. You’re looking for a smooth, velvety texture, so take your time to blend thoroughly. Thin with more chicken stock, if needed, until you reach desired consistency.
- Season to taste with vinegar, maple syrup if desired (when would it not be?) and salt and pepper. Serve in heated bowls, with garnish of choice
The experts say you should serve this with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich. Who am I to argue? And in case you wondered, it’s darned good cold as well. Buck would approve!